The UI Center for Human Rights is pleased to announce the book choice for One Community, One Book 2016–Without You, There Is No Us: My Time with the Sons of North Korea’s Elite by Suki Kim. This book is described as “a haunting memoir of teaching English to the sons of North Korea’s ruling class during the last six months of Kim Jong-il’s reign.” The author, originally from South Korea, spent two semesters teaching English at the Pyongyang University of Science and Technology (PUST) to the sons of North Korea’s elite who had no knowledge of the outside world, no access to the Internet, and who were unable to travel freely. The students spent their time at the university in training to be soldiers and future leaders of the country. During her time teaching at PUST, Ms. Kim was not allowed outside the walled compound alone but only with “minders”. She was aware that she was always being watched and anything she wrote was subject to censorship. Her notes for this book were kept on flash drives on her person at all times. As described on Amazon, “Without You, There Is No Us offers a moving and incalculably rare glimpse of life in the world’s most unknowable country, and at the privileged young men she calls ‘soldiers and slaves.'”
Fall activities based on the book, including discussion forums, are in the planning stages. The capstone event will be an author lecture on October 9 in conjunction with the Iowa City Book Festival. By the Fall 2016 semester we will have book discussion questions available on the website.